Reviewed by: Keith Nixon
Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words
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Gerard Brennan lives in Northern Ireland with his family and is currently studying for an MA in creative writing at Belfast University. Gerard has previously published several other works including the novel, Wee Rockets, a novella, The Point and contributed to a number of anthologies.
You can learn more about Gerard on his website.
Mike Rocks is, literally, in Hell. He’s given a choice by Lucifer himself – stay in the nether region for the rest of eternity or return to earth and set up a Satanic religion in Belfast. Mike takes the latter path, in part because he has his own unfinished business, getting revenge on the people that sent him to Hell in the first place. Before long, Mike’s mission is well underway, but then Cathy Maguire, wannabe contract killer, crosses his path and things start to get complicated.
This is a unique story, I don’t think I’ve read anything like it previously. At first I was asking myself, what’s this all about? The opening scenes of Fireproof are of Mike in Hell being tortured by a strange creature before receiving his mission and getting on with his own. Then Cathy appears, she seems quite a normal girl besides her desire to murder people, starting with her boss.
However, once I was in a few chapters I found it to be a good read, very well written, entertaining (if you can put aside the ‘religious’ elements) and in places funny. There is a good sense of place and the dialogue is sharp. The characters can be distinctly peculiar, for example, there is Cadbury, a tramp who appears and squats in Mike’s flat whilst he’s on a brief respite in Hell. He has a number of very unusual qualities including the ability to read minds. Sounds odd? Yes, but it does fit well in the story.
Towards the latter part of the book, the tone changed somewhat as Mike builds the religion and follows his own plan, but primarily because he grows much closer to Cathy. Fireproof becomes more a story of redemption and relationships.
Overall, I enjoyed Fireproof. It’s a very good read if you enjoy something a bit different.
Rating: **** Four Stars